Thursday, June 30, 2011

NFL News

     Because of the (hopefully) soon ending NFL lockout, I have decided to lump all of the news from the league I found worth mentioning in individual paragraphs inside of a post.

      First, let me mention the aging entertainer we call Chad Ochocinco. His last name, which was supposed to reference his uniform number eighty-five,  is literally translated as eight-five, for if he were to use actual Spanish, his name would be Chad Ochenta y Cinco. The six time Pro Bowl selection's headline-grabbing stunts range from growing a gold mohawk to trying his hand with professional soccer and bull riding.  Being from Cincinnati, I have experienced all of this first hand, and most of the country either knows about his app or his prolific tweeting, for which he was voted number one on the "Most Influential Athlete In Social Media" list. Bengals owner Paul Brown recently suggested he try snake wrangling, though Chad decided he wants to wrestle an alligator. His stunts rarely impact his performance on the field as he has led the AFC in receiving yards four times.

     Now for a few sentences on another boisterous receiver who can back up his trash talk and "Popcorning" (shown at left) on the field. Terrell Owens, or T.O., is one of the best  receivers in the history of the NFL, but his illustrious career could very well be over after he recently underwent ACL surgery. He shot down rumors of retirement, but after this kind of procedure he might have lost another step. He is thirty-seven years old so he has to be retiring soon, but don't count him out his year.

    I hope this lockout ends soon, not just for the millions of men and women who participate the highly addicting pastime of fantasy football, but for the NFL players themselves. Two players have dominated headlines recently for the crimes they have committed, and they are the talented but troubled receiver Kenny Britt, who surrendered to police on two warrants, and Perrish Cox of the Denver Broncos. Cox is currently on trial for  sexual assault.

      Lets hope this lockout ends soon.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Minnesota Timberwolves' Power to Destroy the Draft Boards.

   The Minnesota Timberwolves have the potential to change the entire NBA draft. Recently, they have talked to both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns about the injury prone Andrew Bynum and future Hall of Famer point guard Steve Nash respectively. The previously untouchable stars are both being dangled in an effort to receive Minnesota's number two pick in the draft, who is most likely to be Arizona's Derrick Williams for any team selecting at the spot. Minnesota is able to deal this pick because they already have former number two pick and forward Michael Beasly on their roster.
     However, there are  obvious flaws for both trades. If the Suns trade Nash and pick Williams, who has the range and skills of a small forward but the size and power of a power forward, the Timberwolves have an interesting problem. That particular problem happens to be...if they do get Nash in the deal, what happens to the newly signed Ricky Rubio, who is also a point guard? And then  Jon Flynn?

     For the Lakers, who were mentioned in my previous post, if they trade Bynum and get the pick, who would they choose? It seems strange to me that they would pick Williams because they already have Ron Artest and Pau Gasol as their starting forwards. So I think they could choose center Enes Kanter, who could have been the top pick in the draft if he was not ruled ineligible by the NCAA for playing professionaly in his native Turkey. That also means that the Lakers might not be able to trade for Dwight Howard if they deal Bynum and pick Kanter, unless they trade his draft rights to the Magic.

     That leaves Williams falling to to the Utah Jazz, who could select Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight. That leaves the Jazz with a problem as well, because they need a point guard after trading Deron Williams to the Nets, but they also need a playmaker like Williams. If they do go with Knight, that leaves the Cleveland Cavaliers to pick their man. They wanted both the first and second pick of the draft to pair Kyrie Irving with Williams, which may still happen. But if Williams falls to them, the Cavs have found their star pair for the next six years.

     The Timberwolves have a lot of power in this year's draft. But the question is, how will they use it?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's Time

It's time for a change in Los Angeles. While traveling in Italy, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard once again told reporters that hw would not seek or sign a contract extension with the Magic. That's the Lakers' cue to make a trade offer, or risk the increasingly likely reversion to mediocrity. Yes, I understand that they won two championships in the last three years, but this year, especially in the playoffs, Kobe Bryant finally looked his age. He's played over 48,000 minutes in his NBA career, not including all the international games he's played. He had his lowest scoring average since he had to share the ball with the recently retired Shaq, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton, and this year he didn't have to share with superstars like them. It's time for the Lakers to make a move and bring an heir to the throne, and by trading for Dwight Howard, they can have the superstar center they desperately need, because, honestly, Andrew Bynum is too fragile to be relied on when much better players are available. LA is also believed to be the ideal landing place for Howard, so it is a deal that works out for him and the team.

     On Orlando's side, they pretty much have no choice, for because he will not resign, he will become a free agent and they won't get anything in return. Because of this, they will trade him, and will receive some pretty good players in return, possibly Andrew Bynum, for if the Lakers get Howard, why would they need Bynum?

      It's time for a change in LA, and Howard is the best option for all sides. The Lakers get their new Superman, Howard gets his big market, and the Magic can at least get something in return, which could be the aforementioned Bynum.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bryce Harper

     Some of you may have seen the Washington Nationals phenom, Bryce Harper on ESPN yesterday, and were either amused or angered by the prospect's blowing a kiss to the pitcher after hitting a homerun. It's great to hit homerun, let alone watch one be hit, but if he plans to be a power hitter the rest of his career, and he definitely has the potential to be one, I think he should really tone down the celebration and treat it like any other homerun he's hit in the past. It's also in the minor leagues, so it's not like he was originally planning for this to be a stunt in front of 30,000 people.  I honestly believe that this was a classless move by Harper, and if he's surprised about hitting one at Low Class A, the lowest minor league team possible, I want to see him and his record setting $9,900,000 contract try to hit one against major league pitching, and then watch his reaction. I wonder how his older teammates later on will react if this behavior continues.

     The opposite of Harper, is Freddie Freeman, who plays for the Atlanta Braves. When he hit his first
Major League homerun, which was against the best pitcher in the league, Roy Halladay, he just ran around the bases as if he had done it before.

     I am interested to see how his career turnsout and if this childish behavior continues.

Why the Designated Hitter should be Universally Instituted in the MLB

America is often defined as baseball and apple pie, for their contributions to society have ingrained the two into our nation’s culture.  The former however, is quickly falling from favor.  Baseball, throughout the years has been losing popularity, and many cite the fact that though the American and National Leagues claim to be equally talented, they are obviously separate and unequal, as the American League has won twenty one of the last twenty seven World Series.  Often at National League games, the pitcher is sent to the plate only to bunt at the first pitch seen, and is almost always is retired, making the game itself much more predictable and far less exciting to watch.  It is the opposite in the AL, where fans watch eagerly as the slugging designated hitter, or DH, approaches the batter’s box, wondering if the next pitch could be crushed into the seats.  To mandate of the use of the designated hitter in both the AL and the NL would be the spark the MLB needs by bringing parity into the World Series, more fans to the stands, and therefore bringing both more interest and money back into the great sport of baseball.
     Fans want to see runs scored, pitchers want only to pitch, and managers want to win.  These simple facts are why the DH should be instituted.  However, arguably the most important is the fact that fans would rather see a slugfest than two pitchers dueling in a shutout.  During the Steroid Era (2001), this being the landmark because at this time both leagues had prolific offenses, the top attendance was rewarded to San Francisco, not because of their performance as a team, as they did not win the World Series, but because of the infamous slugger Barry Bonds’ record setting homerun hitting (MLB Attendance Report – 2001, 5/15/2011, 1).  Also, during the 2001 season in which both Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs and the aforementioned Bonds of San Francisco each hit over sixty homeruns, their teams finished one-two in overall attendance percentage, while the eventual World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks finished twelfth (MLB Attendance Report – 2001, 5/15/2011, 1-2) (MLB Player Batting Stats – 2001, 5/16/2011,1).   The attendance chart also shows that although the Diamondbacks had future Hall of Famers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, who would combine to have forty-three wins and an average ERA of 2.73, on their roster, fans would rather see an offensive bonanza than an excellent pitching performance.    
     Managers want to win games.  They also want to avoid injuries to their star players, particularly their well-paid starting pitchers.  In this case, the DH, if universally instituted, could have saved Chien-Ming Wang’s career.  Once regarded as the ace of the Yankees’ starting rotation, he was the fastest to fifty wins since Dwight Gooden in 1986 (Rushdi, Chien-Ming Wang Now Healthy, Able to Join Washington Nationals Rotation in 2011, 5/15/2011, 2).  However, in 2008 Wang was injured running the bases in an interleague game in Houston, where, because the Astros were a National League team, he was forced to bat (Rushdi, Chien-Ming Wang Now Healthy, Able to Join Washington Nationals Rotation in 2011, 5/15/2011,  2).  That day he partially tore a tendon and sprained his right foot, and was never the same afterward (Rushdi, Chien-Ming Wang Now Healthy, Able to Join Washington Nationals Rotation in 2011, 5/15/2011, 2).  After having back-to-back nineteen win seasons, his mechanics were altered and his release point was found to be five inches higher as a result of the injury (Rushdi, Chien-Ming Wang Now Healthy, Able to Join Washington Nationals Rotation in 2011, 5/15/2011, 2).  After his ERA soared to 34.50 the next season, he was an unaffordable luxury and was cut from the Yankees in 2009 (Rushdi, Chien-Ming Wang Now Healthy, Able to Join Washington Nationals Rotation in 2011, 5/15/2011, 2).
      Managers also want to optimize their overall run production, for if an average DH was inserted into any NL team’s lineup in place of a pitcher, they could add at least fifty-eight runs to their final RBI total*.  This could also force managers to create better pitching staffs and pit general managers against one another to get the best available players, even if they are not especially gifted in the field, because they could make an impact in the batter’s box.  This would make the league in general more competitive because ever since the DH was first used in 1973, the American League has won the World Series 77.77% of the time (List of World Series Champions, 5/15/2011, 5-7).  For this reason, and the fact that last year’s three teams in runs scored are members of the American League, the AL is widely considered the better league in the MLB, though it has a higher ERA, which could be inflated through the runs added by a DH (MLB Team Stats (1), 5/15/2011, 1) (MLB Team Stats (2), 5/9/2011, 2).  However, if the DH was universal in the MLB, the NL would be considered the AL’s equal, for both leagues would have teams with powerful offenses and formidable pitching staffs who are accustomed to the rigors of facing talented lineups, bringing parity back to baseball, which in turn would draw interest into the sport and therefore more revenue to make even better lineups. 
     People claim the DH is detrimental to the history to the game, because it goes against the tradition of the game itself.  However, wasn’t this the case with the three point line in basketball, the addition of the forward pass in football, or icing in hockey?  Though controversial at the time they were instituted, they have become a key part of their respective sports.  In all sports there will be ‘specialists,’ like Ray Allen and his three point shooting, Drew Brees and his pass-only quarterbacking, and Mike Cook and his checking, so why can’t there be more people like them in baseball?  It gives both players and fans a chance to do what they actually want to do, giving hitters a chance to hit, pitchers a chance to focus solely on pitching, older players who have lost a step in the field a chance to extend their careers,  and fans could enjoy the result.  There comes a time when tradition must give way to progress, and for baseball the time is now.  The NL has been lagging behind for years and it’s about time that Commissioner Bud Selig gives the fans of Major League Baseball what they want- a high scoring, exciting baseball game.
     Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that the MLB universally institute’s the usage of the designated hitter, and bring back the golden age of hitting.  Nobody wants to see a sacrifice bunt, but everyone wants to see a towering homerun, because of this, the DH would bring both fans and profits back to baseball.  DHs save careers, for too many pitchers have had their livelihoods ruined in the batter’s box or on the base paths, and by letting pitchers do their jobs, they will excel and make the game even more competitive.  In short the DH would make baseball great again.  Now, my fellow Americans, let us go back and get what we deserve- a national pastime as great as our nation itself.